The toll of the Marburg virus disease epidemic which has been raging for more than two months in Equatorial Guinea has reached 20 dead, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Thursday, Malabo having counted six more deaths in ten. days.
The recorded cases of this hemorrhagic fever almost as deadly as Ebola overflowed from the province of Kié-Ntem where it had caused the first known deaths on January 7, until reaching Bata, the economic capital of this small African country. central, for the insular part and for the other mainland.
This expansion "
suggests wider transmission of the virus
" and requires "
intensifying response efforts to (...) avoid a large-scale epidemic and loss of life
", warns the WHO in a communicated.
Between March 11 and 20, eight cases were confirmed, six of whom died
," the Equatorial Guinean government said on its website, without establishing a total assessment since the start of the epidemic.
The latest official report mentioned 11 deaths on February 28.
To date, there are 20 probable cases and 20 deaths.
“, announces the WHO, specifying that the new cases are reported in the provinces of Kié-Ntem, Litoral and Centro Sur, which all have international borders with Cameroon and Gabon.
Insufficient government efforts
The epidemic is therefore now raging in three of the four continental provinces, from the east to the Atlantic Ocean.
Bata, the port opening onto the Gulf of Guinea and populated by around 250,000 inhabitants, is "
", according to the government.
The efforts of the authorities assisted by the WHO to contain the virus in Kié-Ntem were therefore not enough.
"Additional WHO experts (...) will be deployed in the coming days"
, promises the UN organization adding that it
"is also helping Gabon and Cameroon to strengthen preparedness and response to the epidemic". Tanzania also announced on Tuesday the start of a Marburg outbreak, with five dead.
Virus transmitted by bats
The virus is transmitted to humans by fruit bats and spreads among humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, or with surfaces and materials.
The fatality rate can reach 88%.
There are no approved vaccines or antiviral treatments to treat the virus.
However, supportive care - oral or intravenous rehydration - and treatment of specific symptoms increase the chances of survival.
A range of potential treatments, including blood products, immune therapies and drugs, as well as candidate vaccines with phase 1 data are being evaluated, according to the WHO.